Tag: world series

Umpire Charlie Daniels, Baseball Pioneer from Hartford

Charles F. Daniels was born in Colchester, Connecticut, on March 13, 1849. He moved to Hartford as a young adult and became a pitcher for the Hartford Amateurs, a club comprised of the city’s best talent. However, the 25 year old Daniels discovered his place to be behind the plate. He began his umpiring career in Hartford officiating minor league, college and amateur games. His professional umpiring debut was September 7, 1874, in a National Association matchup between the Hartford and Brooklyn clubs.

Daniels was reported in the newspaper as “Umpire Daniels of Hartford Amateurs.” He would go on to serve 13 seasons as a highly regarded figure in the National Association (1874-1875), the National League (1876, 1878-1880, 1887-1888), and the American Association (1883-1885, 1889). In the early days of professional baseball, Daniels was a top rated umpire. He was popular with most players and fans. He presided over multiple historically significant games. He called two no-hitters; the first in major league history, and the other a perfect game. In 1875, Daniels officially umpired 22 games, all but one as the lone arbiter on the field.

Charles F. Daniels, Umpire of 1888 World Series.

Around midseason, Daniels had a personal dispute with bar owner Matthew M. Coughlin. He once used to work as a barkeeper at Coughlin’s bar on Front Street and rumors spread about Daniels having an affair with Coughlin’s wife. After returning from umpiring a game in New York, Daniels was threatened and chased around downtown Hartford by an enraged Coughlin. In response, Daniels drew a weapon and fired three times in Coughlin’s direction but missed. Daniels was charged for assault with intent to kill but later proven innocent on the grounds of self-defense.

Hartford Courant excerpt, 1875.

When the American Association dissolved in 1876, Daniels latched onto the newly formed National League. That season he called 45 games. Daniels supervised the first no-hitter recognized by Major League Baseball: George Bradley of St. Louis Brown Stockings blanked the Hartford Dark Blues, 2-0 on July 15, 1876. Because he adjudicated so many important big league games as compared to his peers, Daniels became a trusted judge of the game. He earned a reputation as a pioneer of the umpiring craft and his services were in demand.

Daniels was the first umpire to run from home plate to another base to get a better angle on close call. He revolutionized the role of umpire by setting new norms. He was one of the first umpires to wear protective equipment such as shin guards. His expertise was known throughout baseball circles and by the end of 1876, Daniels was summoned to preside over a championship series between Chicago and St. Louis. A special train was sent to collect Daniels and deliver him to St. Louis where he earned $400 with travel expenses paid. Daniels did not appear as umpire on the major league level in 1877.

He returned in 1878 for 9 games and another 46 games in 1879. He called 28 games in 1880, including the second perfect game in major league history by John Montgomery Ward. During the 1883 season game totals increased significantly with the American Association, earning $10 per game. Daniels umpired 91 games in 1884 and stayed with the American Association until 1885. While in the midst of a famous umpiring career, Daniels opted for a change of roles. In 1886 and 1887, he became manager of the Hartford Base Ball Club in the Eastern League. During this time, Daniels was credited with scouting a young catcher named Connie Mack but later sold him to Washington.

Hartford Courant excerpt, 1890.

After an unsuccessful pursuit as Hartford manager, Daniels resumed umpiring in 1888 and compiled a career high of 110 games. During his final season as a professional umpire in 1889, he officiated 19 contests for the American Association. His career totals were 504 games over 13 seasons. Without official baseball duties, Daniels seemed to lose hope. He suffered from a serious case of alcoholism and in 1890, Daniels checked into the Hartford Retreat and made a recovery. In 1897, Daniels made a comeback as Hartford’s alternate umpire in the Atlantic League.

Hartford Courant excerpt, 1896.
Hartford Courant excerpt, 1896.

At the time of the 1930 United States Census, Daniels was living in a rented home on Parham Road in Colchester with his brother Robert. His occupation was noted as a farmer. Then he moved in with his brother Eugene on a farm in Colchester off of New London-Hartford Road. On March 21, 1932, Daniels was found lying unconscious in a ditch where he had apparently fallen during a snowstorm. A head wound and exposure to the elements resulted in his death two days later. Umpire Charlie Daniels died at Backus Hospital in Norwich, Connecticut, at the age of 83.

Hartford Courant column about Umpire Daniels, 1923.

“Don’t spring a book of rules on me and expose your ignorance. You know you can’t read.”

Umpire Charlie Daniels to Kid Gleason in 1894.
Gravestone of Charles F. Daniels in Linwood Cemetery, Colchester, Connecticut.

Sources
1. Hartford Courant Database accessed on Newspapers.com
2. Baseball-Reference.com

Bristol’s Baseball Magnate, William J. Tracy

Bristol, Connecticut, is home to Muzzy Field as well as a distinguished baseball history. One the most significant figures in Bristol’s baseball chronicles is William J. Tracy; the man who prompted the construction of Muzzy Field. Also known as Bill Tracy, he was baseball club owner, executive and friend of legendary managers Connie Mack of the Philadelphia Athletics and John McGraw of the New York Giants. A photograph of Tracy and Mack at the 1911 World Series has been curated by the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Map of Bristol, Connecticut, 1893.

William J. Tracy was born in Bristol on January 1, 1869. He spent his youth working at the Central Meat Market on North Main Street. Eventually Tracy became sole proprietor of the meat market, later called the Bristol Beef Company. As a respected young man around town he was elected Constable of Bristol in 1894. However, Tracy’s real passion was the national game of baseball. So when the meat business paid off, he decided to finance a top-rate Bristol club in the Connecticut League.

Hartford Courant, 1900.

In 1900, Bill Tracy became an of the Bristol Baseball Association. He joined fellow proprietors, State Representative Otto F. Strunz and a barbershop owner named John E. Kennedy who later became the state’s chief umpire. The town was overjoyed to have a team in the Connecticut League with Tracy at the helm. While in charge of the club, he also acted as umpire on multiple occasions. The following season cemented Bristol’s admiration for Tracy when he led Bristol to the 1901 state league championship.

John E. Kennedy, Bristol, 1900.
Otto F. Strunz, Bristol, 1900
The Journal (Meriden, Connecticut), June, 14, 1901.

Bristol was the smallest town in the Connecticut League circuit, yet they conquered the competition. Bill Tracy’s club of 1901 won the pennant over second place Bridgeport. Bristol featured player-manager and pitching ace Doc Reisling who went on to play major league ball for the Brooklyn Superbas and Washington Senators. There was also Ted Scheffler an outfielder from New York City, Red Owens an infielder from Pottsville, Pennsylvania, and Andy Anderson, a catcher from Detroit, Michigan. Connecticut’s baseball community praised Bristol for winning the league in honorable fashion.

Hartford Courant, September 7, 1901.
Hartford Courant, September 17, 1901.
Doc Reisling, Pitcher, Bristol, 1901.
Andy Anderson, Catcher, Bristol, 1901.
Connecticut League standings, 1901.

In spite of their first championship, Tracy’s club was not invited back to the Connecticut League in 1902. League officials cited revenue issues due to the small size of Bristol. Tracy wholeheartedly disagreed with the snub of his championship team. Hall of Fame player-manager Jim O’Rourke of the Bridgeport club was reported to have headed the cabal who dismissed Bristol. President of the Connecticut League, Sturges Whitlock upheld the decision. Tracy was only temporarily discouraged and held no grudge against O’Rourke. The next summer Tracy funded a Bristol squad, “The Flats” in the Town Amateur Baseball League.

Jim O’Rourke, Secretary, Connecticut League, 1901.
Sturges Whitlock, President, Connecticut League, 1901.

When presented the opportunity, Bill Tracy returned to the Connecticut League in 1903 by purchasing the Hartford Senators franchise. After two unremarkable seasons as head of the Hartford club, he decided to pursue a position as a league officer. He sold his ownership stake in the Hartford Senators to would-be longtime owner, James H. Clarkin and the team’s captain, Bert Daly for $5,000. In 1905, Tracy was appointed Vice President of the Connecticut League, the forerunner of the Eastern League. By October of 1906, Tracy was voted in as President.

1904 Hartford Senators

The Connecticut League was a professional association whose teams were unaffiliated with Major League clubs. The minor leagues were classified by playing level on a scale of Class A to Class F. Bill Tracy was president of the Class B Connecticut League until 1912. His role consisted of disciplining players and settled disputes between clubs hailing from cities like Hartford, Meriden, Bridgeport, New Haven, New London, Norwich, Springfield and Holyoke. He was also tasked with managing relationships with big league clubs who often signed state league players known as “contract jumpers”.

William J. Tracy, President, Connecticut League, 1906.
Hartford Courant, May 26, 1910.

Outside of baseball, Bill Tracy was appointed to the Bristol Trust Company Board of Directors in 1907 and to the Bristol National Bank Board of Directors in 1909. Tracy served as a charter member of the Bristol Board of Park Commissioners and as superintendent of Bristol Parks for 15 years until his retirement in 1935. In this position he was instrumental in the acquisition and development of Memorial Boulevard, Rockwell Park and Muzzy Field – named after Adrian J. Muzzy of Bristol, a prominent businessman and State Senator who donated land for the ballpark in memory of his two sons who died young.

Adrian J. Muzzy, 1904.
Commemorative plaque at Muzzy Field, 2015.
Muzzy Field, Bristol, Connecticut, 2015.

Like Adrian Muzzy, Bill Tracy aggressively sought to improve Bristol while capitalizing on business opportunities. He founded a real estate and insurance company that later became Tracy-Driscoll Insurance. At 68 years old, Tracy passed away on December 1, 1937 after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage. He is remembered as a baseball executive, businessman, public servant, philanthropist and family man. Tracy was married 43 years to Ellen Lacey Tracy. They had 4 sons, Paul, Joseph, Francis, and William E. Tracy; all of whom played baseball.

William J. Tracy, 1925 (c.)

Francis “Tommy” Tracy was a clever pitcher who captained the Dartmouth College ball club. William E. Tracy founded Bristol Sports Promotion who owned and operated the Hartford Bees of the Eastern League in 1947 and 1948. William J. Tracy and his family pioneered for Bristol a lasting reputation as one of the great baseball towns in America. In 2002, Tracy’s many contributions were honored when he was inducted into the Bristol Sports Hall of Fame.

William E. Tracy, 1958.

Sources:

  1. Hartford Courant database (Newspapers.com)